One dry eye at Fogarty wake


Fogarty Building on Friday. Demo began on Monday. (Brussat photo)

There’s a bar in downtown Providence, a karaoke place at Westminster and Empire, called Finnegan’s Wake. Well, today we held Fogarty’s Wake for the Fogarty Building, who’s demo began Monday. I’ve made a cottage industry of disparaging it in print. I did give a eulogy, though, and your skunk-in-the-funeral-parlor correspondent was on best behavior. But hey, the architect’s daughter, Jana Planka, was among the eulogists. Still, knowledgeable heads must have exploded at my restraint. I was told afterward that my eulogy was funny. Maybe. The Journal’s reporter, John Hill, says he will pop my line “I marvel at my lack of hatred for it” into his story. He told me it was “the zen of the event.” Ha ha! I like that!

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Clock amid ruins.

I met Bill Rappleye, the correspondent for Channel 10, before the wake got under way. He shot a segment on the Fogarty’s demise and our funeral for it. The event was a joint production of Brown University, the Providence Preservation Society and Doors Open RI. Rappleye’s report of the “funeral” gave it over two minutes of air time, which is long for TV (below). “It was the first time I’ve ever seen a ceremony held to bid farewell to a building,” he told his TV audience. That’s me in an early bit listening to architectural historian Marisa Brown, of the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, describe the building, its history and why it is being, as Rappleye  said, “put out of its misery.”

Other eulogists were Ms. Planka; Ned Connors, an expert in the repurposing of old buildings (the Fogarty was just turning 50, or officially historical); Markus Berger, a specialist in historic interiors at RISD; Elizabeth Francis, director of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities; Viera Levitt, a photographer who specializes in Brutalist buildings; and Caroline Stevens, the director of Doors Open RI. Ms. Stevens invited listeners to give their own eulogies – a few did – or to write down their memories of the building at her organization’s facebook event page. Read the event sponsors’ obituary, which appeared on the website of the Providence Journal.

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John E. Fogarty Memorial Building in better days. (Providence City Archives)

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Central Police Station, abandoned in 1940, at far left of Fogarty photo. (PPL)

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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5 Responses to One dry eye at Fogarty wake

  1. Pingback: The Fogarty Building Funeral

  2. Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure Finnegan’s Wake hasn’t been open for about a year. Must be something about modernism….


  3. shedguy says:

    Fogarty building eulogy/tagline: Not As Horrible As What You’ll Find in Boston or D.C.!
    Can’t believe the press this wretched thing is getting. Textbook case of ‘more beloved in death than life’. While reading one encominium which put it: “This ‘gem’ of Brutalist style”…internal spell check instantly substituted ‘carbuncle’. Oh well…another one bites the dust!


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